What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kik Messenger is an app-based alternative to standard texting as well as a social networking app for smartphones. It has some cool features but also some possible downsides for safety and privacy. Kik users can download other apps with more features, such as video and a sketchpad, to be used on Kik, and users can see if their messages have been read by the recipients, which is a nice touch. That said, Kik should only be used by teens who can discern the difference between texting people individually, with groups, and within a social networking environment. This multi-feature (read: potentially more ways to get into trouble) tool is for older teens and adults who will use it to communicate with family and friends, to make use of the features on some of the other cool Kik-enabled apps (like the video camera, document share, sketchpad, and greeting cards), and who will not give out personal information to Kik users they don't know or indiscriminately pay for premium features on other Kik-enabled apps. Kik definitely adds a kick to "old-fashioned texting," but teens need some guidance on safety and privacy if they're going to use it.
What's it about?
Register for a Kik Messenger account using your first and last name. Choose a username and upload a profile picture. You'll be prompted to choose whether you want Kik to search through your contacts to find other Kik users, which this app almost necessitates because you can only communicate with other people who have Kik. Then start sending messages or photos (sketches and videos will require another app download) to other Kik-using friends individually or in a group chat.
Is it any good?
Kik definitely raises some eyebrows and some smiles, depending on what features you're talking about on this innovative app. In the plus column, the fast message delivery system doesn't have message limits, character limits, or fees if you just use the basic features, and it's decidedly more fun in many ways than SMS texting. On the downside, there's no age verification, seemingly no teen safeguards on the connected app OinkText, and some bad behavior from some Kik users trying to connect with people they don't know via the App Store and Google Play's comment sections.
Will teens leave SMS texting behind and move to more nebulous texting/social networking/multi-app combos like Kik? Time will tell. If they do, we hope the developers, parents, and teens will all keep privacy and safety in mind.
|Devices:||iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android|
|Skills:||Communication: conveying messages effectively, friendship building, multiple forms of expression |
Tech Skills: social media
Responsibility & Ethics: honoring the community, making wise decisions, respect for others
Collaboration: respecting other viewpoints
|Release date:||October 12, 2012|
|Minimum software requirements:||iOS 4.3 or later; Android 1.5 and up|